Bruce Bartlett's New Book Is Out
Time for the Washington Post to Retire Robert Samuelson (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

Ken Macleod on the Liberalism of Fools

Crooked Timber directs us to Ken Macleod's (why isn't the "L" capitalized?) thoughts on the Liberalism of Fools:

The Early Days of a Better Nation : Anti-semitism, said Bebel and Engels, is the socialism of fools. The rage of the small property holder - the peasant, the artisan, the stall-keeper - against his inexorable ruin by the competition of bigger capital is given a face and a race to hate: a physical particularity that stands in thought for the abstractions of 'finance' and 'the market' and 'the banks'. 'The Jew' becomes the concrete embodiment (in fantasy) of exchange value. So goes the Marxist tale, anyway, though it has many more subtle twists than that.

Is there another hatred that might be called 'the liberalism of fools'? The progressivism of fools? The libertarianism of fools? If anti-semitism is, in an important aspect, a rage against the machine, against progress, is there an opposite rage: a rage against reaction, a fury at the recalcitrance of the concrete and the stubbornness of tradition? A rage against what is sacred and refuses to be profaned, against what is solid and doesn't melt into air, against ways of life that resist commodification, against use-value that refuses to become exchange-value? And might that rage too need a fantasy object?

In the 1930s and 40s, a number of progressive intellectuals found that object in the Roman Catholic Church. Granted all the good reasons there were, in that age of the dictators, for identifying the RC Church with militant reaction, the fury seems oddly disproportionate. H. G. Wells's wartime Penguin Special Crux Ansata starts with the cry 'Bomb Rome!' and goes on from there.... [T]here it was: a religion identified with reaction, and progressives with a blind spot about a powerful state that they saw as that religion's most formidable foe....

[A]nti-Catholicism is gone as a burning-glass of progressive rage. One wonders what new lens might focus that rage now. Is there some religion or people that has come to represent all that is backward in the world, and in need of a sound and salutary thrashing from the forces of progress? Orthodoxy, perhaps? Zoroastrianism? Tibetan Buddhism? Hinduism? None of them seem to quite fit the bill. There must be one out there somewhere. Because the rage still burns.